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Transcript of SCA's stand-up briefing

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a stand-up briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, this (April 7) afternoon:

Reporter: The democracy activists just now said that they wanted consultation to be conducted as soon as the end of this year, and they wanted a direct election of the Chief Executive to take place in 2007. Are they possible?

SCA: What I would say is that we have made a steady and measured progress in dealing with the review of constitutional developments beyond 2007. I have said back in September last year that we would conduct this review according to the Basic Law and that we would leave enough time for there to be a wide public consultation exercise and for us to handle any local legislation.

So far as we are concerned, we have continued to make suitable preparations for conducting this review. In 2003, we will concentrate on internal research. We believe it is more likely for public consultation to take place either in 2004 or 2005, and that in 2006, we will hope to be in a position to deal with any local legislation.

So far as the views of Ms Lau and other groups are concerned, I would say that in the community, there are various views. There are those who believe that we should introduce a higher degree of direct elections in our electoral systems. There are those who believe that we should maintain functional constituencies. In conducting our review, we have to take into account the views expressed by various parties before we come to a view on the way forward.

Another area of research, which we need to focus on, is the various types of practical electoral arrangements. For example, the size of geographical constituencies, the population to be covered by these geographical constituencies and the number of seats to be assigned to each of these constituencies.

Finally, we need to research into the relevant provisions of the Basic Law regarding any proposed changes in electoral arrangements beyond 2007. We are researching into the scope of the relevant provisions in the Basic Law. As regards the provision in Annex I of the Basic Law covering any proposed changes to the system for returning the Chief Executive, we are studying this; we have not yet come to a view. But we will study this and other provisions very carefully before we put together a final package for consideration when our research is completed.

Reporter: When will your research be completed?

SCA: We intend to focus on internal research within 2003. We have not yet come to a view as to the precise timing for public consultation on constitutional developments. We believe it is more likely for this to take place in either 2004 or 2005. So, we will continue to have regular reflection of public opinions and we will take these reflections of public opinions into account in the course of our research.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion.)

End/Monday, April 7, 2003